Neil Turner's Blog

Blogging about technology and randomness since 2002

Using the Equinix TubeStick on Windows

Update: Since this entry was written, Equinux have released official Windows drivers and you should use those instead. This entry is retained for historical purposes but is now out of date.

Equinux’s TubeStick is a great budget DVB-T tuner for Macs – but out of the box, it will only work on a Mac. Put it into a Windows PC and the Find Hardware Wizard will simply mull over it for a few minutes before coming up blank.

The good news is that there is a signed Windows driver for it, or at least the model I have. The TubeStick is based around the Afatech AF9015 chipset, and the driver can be downloaded from this page on Afatech’s web site. It apparently works with Windows XP and Vista – I only tried it on XP SP2 but it seemed to work okay.

To actually watch TV, you’ll also need some software to interact with the TubeStick, and it’s here that I’ve come up blank, however, getting the driver should be a good starting point.

I’m working on a full review of the TubeStick on a Mac but I’ve pushed it back a bit since a new version of The Tube (the Mac software you use with it) has been released with some new features. I’m liking it so far though.

12 Comments

  1. I’m not sure if it’ll work with this particular piece of hardware, but DScaler works with many, many devices. While the TubeStick isn’t on their list of supported devices, if the TubeStick uses one of the already-supported chipsets, it should probably work.

  2. Hey Neil, does The Tube support DVB Text (BBCi/Teletext etc.)? I use Elgato EyeTV and it doesn’t yet which is a bit annoying.

  3. Greg: Thanks. The chipset isn’t listed but it could be worth checking out.
    Matt: No, it doesn’t. I don’t think it even supports LCN (logical channel numbering) so you have to order the channels yourself. It lets you watch and record TV and that’s about it.

  4. Another that may be worth a try is media portal for Windows – I managed to get it working with an el-cheapo tv card that I bought for my laptop. I think mytheatre works with most cards too.

  5. A quick for you since you live in the UK. If you use your computer for watching TV do you need to pay the TV tax (I don’t know what it is officially called)? I’m thinking you likely don’t since how is the government to know you use your computer for TV purposes.

  6. The tv license IS still payable regardless of how you pick up tv signals. The only exception is watching tv on the internet.

  7. Matt’s right – basically, if you have something that can receive a TV signal and it has been tuned to receive TV channels, then you need a license. The only exceptions are students living away from home with battery-powered TVs, and TV watched over the internet.
    As for how does the government know, first of all the body in charge of TV Licensing isn’t the government but a private company contracted by the BBC. They have lists of who has a TV license and who doesn’t, and if you are suspected of having a TV tuner and no license then you will receive lots of letters and may then have inspectors call at your house.
    You can, however, have a TV set up purely for, say, watching DVDs or playing games consoles, and as long as it isn’t tuned to receive any TV signal then you can get away with not having a license.

  8. I’ve just tested to use my tubestick with ProgDVB (http://www.progdvb.com).
    Does anyone know if there exists any working cardsharing software for mac?

  9. I got the tubestick yesterday and am very disappointed in equinux’s ‘TheTube’ application. On my 1.42GHz PPC Mac Mini, it can’t even display a quarter-sized screen without severe video and audio breakup. See my mini review here.
    Shame really.

  10. @MattM: well, EyeTV has Teletext support for quite some time. You have to activate Teletext and type in the page number for the subtitles.
    And even DVB Subtitles are supported. Wonder when/if these features will be in The Tube 😉

  11. The AF9015 drivers work in Vista as well, at least under Vista Business with ProgDVB. Business doesn’t have the Media Centre (nor does it even have Solitaire – I cried – but I got it free from my uni under MSDNAA so I ain’t complaining!) so I can’t check whether or not it works with that.
    On XP SP2, GBPVR won’t work, neither will the released version of MediaPortal. I tried it with the SVN builds of MP and the MP TV Server, and it worked but the stream kept freezing up. I have only tried ProgDVB on Vista thus far.
    As an aside, despite all the negativity towards Vista, I find that its performance is stellar on my first-gen MacBook. I’ve installed Office 2007 and its performance is similarly impressive.
    Sam

  12. Without any fanfare, the UK government not so long back quietly amended the relevant statute to redefine a TV set for legal purposes. Any UK computer now used to receive a live broadcast becomes, in law, a TV set – whether it has a TV card or not.
    The BBC News site is peppered with labels urging the unsuspecting surfer to watch ‘Live.’ What they do not tell you is that each time you respond to such an invitation your machine sends a cookie to the TV Licensing Authority (aka Crapita). If you don’t have a full colour licence, this renders you eminently bustible. eg: watch Newsnight live, your machine sends a cookie; watch it later as a download: no cookie. If you don’t believe me, check it out for yourself. CAVEAT BROWSER!